Governor Romney said that 47% of the population believe they are victims who are entitled to government support and don't pay federal income taxes - in other words, Democrats. But who are the 47%?
- Retirees that live off of Social Security or military pensions,
- Full time students,
- Enlisted service men with children,
- Minimum wage earners with children, and
Many of these are Democrats, though many are Republicans, and many simply don't vote. Some work long and hard, but don't earn enough to support themselves, much less pay taxes. Some usually work, but haven't in the prolonged recession. But there are also what economists call free-riders; people who rely on government support even though they could work to support themselves.
How many of the 47% are free-riders? I don't know, but it is a minority, and it is insulting to broadly paint almost half the population as government free-loaders. The government provides various forms of social insurance to its citizens in return for mandatory premiums. Those who claim the insurance benefits are not free-loaders, unless their claim is fraudulent (a free-rider). Provision of social insurance by the government is preferable to the private sector because it will have lower overhead expenses, will not have the expense of private profit, and virtually no credit/counterparty risk. The private sector is better at many services, but this is one where they aren't.
I haven't seen Romney harp on how to identify or solve the problem of free-riders. I wish he would, because their presence many social safety net programs. But I think Romney prefers the broad brush, because that enables him to be a victim. After all, being a victim of wasteful government spending on deadbeats enables Romney and others to rationalize not paying their own fair share of taxes.
Some free-riders take government benefits that they don't deserve, while other free-riders evade taxes that they should pay. Their immoral behavior is accepted as ethical within each of their socio-economic spheres. Within their clans they congratulate each other for cleverly either drawing more illicit benefits or hiding more income. Ironically both the rich and poor free-riders claim to be victims of abuses of those at the other end of the income spectrum. Their excuse is that their actions are legal (though some of it clearly isn't, as Swiss bank accounts would suggest).
We have allowed the standard for appropriate behavior to fall from what is moral or ethical, down to what is merely legal. Paying taxes is a moral requisite, and a basic civic duty. We don't like to do it, just like we don't like to serve on a jury or be drafted into military service. It should certainly be expected of politicians.
I wish that someone ran on a platform of good government - not more or less government, but good government. Part of that means that the free-riders of government benefits are forced out, and the free-riders of the tax system are forced to pay. Maybe everyone pays at least a token amount in federal taxes (though you really can't squeeze blood from a turnip), but the tax reform mostly means that the system is simpler, fairer, and is enforced - including on the mega-wealthy. I think most voters would strongly support such a platform. If we get rid of the free-riders then it removes the victim-hood excuse for immoral activities that harm our nation's finances and even the common integrity that we need to function.